Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Day 8: Honesty

Out of all the January blog-a-day topics I've tackled so far, I have to say this is the most difficult. I've put it off and put it off. And I guess the reason it feels so difficult warrants some examination.

So far I feel like I've been pretty transparent on this blog. (Especially when it comes to topics like "my biggest embarrassment." Even my wife said, after reading that blog, "Oh my goodness, I can't believe you actually shared THAT.")

But, I am keenly aware that I have specific "closets" in my life, There are things I don't yet have complete victory over, things I struggle with, little practices of selfishness I cling to, tendencies to fly off in unguarded moments or systemic failures to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. I wrestle over these areas: Are they really wrong? They're not so bad, are they? I've made improvement, haven't I? I'm not completely over this, but at least I'm making progress, right?

But then, I realize that my very unwillingness, even now, to get specific here means that no, I do not yet have victory in these areas. I am apparently not yet fully willing to have that particular closet swept out. Lord knows I WANT to be willing! I want to be transparent, I want to be able to say, "That's something I used to struggle with ... but now it's all behind me."

But the fact that I can't yet say this, that I can't yet be fully honest with you all, probably means that no, I'm still in bondage, to some extent or another, to these practices and habits and tendencies in my life.

You may ask, Have I been honest with the Lord? I think that I have. I know He sees all, knows all, and wishes for me to be completely free. Acknowledging things to God that I am too embarrassed to be honest about with everyone else is not so hard for me. I have confessed them over and over again. While I don't think He approves, I do think He understands. And I'm not sure everyone else would.

I am hopeful that this is a universal (fallen) human experience, and that I am not alone in this struggle! I find comfort in the fact that my conundrum bears an uncanny similarity to that expressed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:21-25:
Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
These verses assure me that Jesus Christ "delivers me" from this "body that is subject to death." That delivery, I think, is something that has already been procured (when He hung on the Cross and cried out, "It is finished!"); but also something that is in process right now (He delivers me) and indeed something that will occur in the future (when I am finally released from "this body of death"). How those past, present, and future tenses all work together practically for my deliverance is a bit of a mystery to me, where I sit, here today.

I also find it fascinating that while I acknowledge, mentally speaking, that I want to be completely free of "this body of death," in practice I am not so sure. The situation is reminiscent of the man, in C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, with the annoying little lizard on his shoulder. It whispers horrid things into his ear and fills him with doubt. But it is also a comfort; it has always been there, and he is "used to it." He fears what life might be like without it. When an angel offers to free him by snatching it off his shoulder and snapping its back, he recoils in horror. Won't that hurt? Only for a moment, the angel assures, and then you will be free. You want to be free, don't you?

The question rings in my ears just as it rang in the ears of that wretched soul. I want to cry out with all my being, "Yes, I want to be free!" I want to be done with my annoying little lizards. And yet, at the same time, all that is within me is urging me to turn and run in the opposite direction, as fast as I can.

Why is honesty, which comes so naturally to God, such a hard thing for you and I? I marvel at verses like Luke 18:8 -- "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" I picture Jesus, returned to earth at last, wandering with a lamp like the Greek philosopher Diogenes "in search of an honest man."

And I wonder about the lamp. Scripture says that the Word of God is "alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." God, have mercy!

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